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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A week ago I had the recall software upgrade done after an incident where the car wouldn't start. All the dashboard lights came on and stayed on, including the red triangle, but the car wouldn't start and it wouldn't go into gear. After pushing the "key" button (under the steering wheel) and putting the fob in the keyhole and turning it on and off a few more times, it started. The dealer said I needed the software upgrade, so I had it done immediately.

I drove the car for 2 weeks, and it was fine. Then yesterday it wouldn't start again, and no amount of pushing buttons will make it start. The symptoms:
- The door beeps when I open it
- When I push the Power button, the car beeps for about 5 seconds.
- The Power button is amber.
- The Park button blinks green
- Most of the dashboard lights come on and stay on (including the triangle, but not including "maintenance required".
- The computer screen does not come on at all.
- The fuel quantity bars blink - at first showing the correct amount of gas, now with just one bar.

I have tried this with two different fobs (both have power and can lock/unlock the doors); I've done it with the fobs in and out of the slot, and I've tried it with the "key" button in both positions. The car lights work, so the 12-volt battery is OK.

Has anyone had anything like this happen before? I'd sure like to know what's going on, because it's in a place where it would be very difficult to tow.

(Incidentally, the first time it happened I called the Toyota road service, and the guy they sent thought it was a Honda, and when I told him it was a hybrid, he said "I've never worked on one of those before. How do I plug it in?" He was no help at all.)
 

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HMmmmmmm.....

anything strange going on with the shift indicators on the display?
no check engine light prior to this happening?
is the situation that happens now, exactly the same as the first time it wouldn't start?
what's the production date of your 05? (inside driver's door frame)
are you able to turn on the mfd using the info button?
smart key system?

he's (my husband that is) thinking on this one. he's never seen one of these before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
OK, here's what happened...

As I was getting ready to have it towed, I spent some more time pushing buttons, and it seems I hit a combination that started the car. It had something to do with releasing and then re-engaging the emergency break. It stuttered a little (the lights blinked once) and then it started and worked OK. But I felt like it required doing a very odd sequence of things that I'm not sure I could reproduce.

I called the service department at the dealer, and of course they hadn't heard of anything like this. But the guy did offer a theory. Apparently if you try to start the car with the door open and the emergency break off, bad things happen. Could be, and I don't know whether I might have done this. But I'm not in the mood to test this right now. Anyone know anything about this? It's probably important, because there are times and places when you definitely would not want something like this to happen to you.
 

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stalling

I don't buy that theory. I've started my car with the door open and the brake off many times with no ill effects. I think somebody's reaching.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, that's the problem - what are they going to tell me? The service guy was very clear that unless they see the problem, they won't be able to diagnose it. He said that if it's acting normally when I bring it in, the diagnostics won't find anything. Is this true? Keep in mind that this problem occurred both before and after the software was upgraded.
Since no one else on this forum has reported this problem, I suspect that it's something especially odd...which makes it even less likely that a dealer will figure it out. (And to the person who suggested giving them hell, as much as that would make me feel better, I suspect that it wouldn't get them to solve the problem.)
Realistically, I think my only recourse is to wait for it to happen again, and instead of fiddling with it for an hour or two, get it towed immediately and let them see it. But how inconvenient is THAT?
 

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yeah that does suck, but they're right.

you can't diagnose something unless you have a chance to see it and fiddle with it. intermittent problems often get returned untouched with a CNR (could not replicate) for this very reason.

a truly dedicated tech with some extra time on his hands and a few days (or longer) of daily driving in your car can usually pick up an intermittent issue. even then, the issue might not present itself and after a while he won't want to keep your car from you any longer without a reason.

tough call, but this is something that hasn't been really reported or heard of before. sorry you've gotten stuck with this. hopefully it won't happen again.
 

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The error codes eventually do erase, but not right away, so it might be possible for them to find some.

The recall probably has nothing to do with this problem. The symptoms indicate a power up sequence problem.
Power button being a solid amber (not blinking) indicates you are in Ig-On mode. Not being able to get out of that would sound like the Hang on Ig-On that I sometimes get, but all the rest of your symptoms indicate a much bigger problem. By the way, the best way out of a Hang on Ig-On is to press the power button without pressing the brake. That will power off, then you can power up to READY again.

I too have been able to power to READY or any other mode with the driver door open. I hardly ever use the emergency brake.

I would suspect a poor 12V system (weak aux battery maybe?) or communications problem between the HV ECU, the Immobilizer ECU, and/or the Power ECU. The HV ECU won't go to full READY until it double checks with the immobilizer that there is indeed a valid fob authenticated. It makes this request over a dedicated connection outside of the CAN.
 

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Are you guys saying that yours will go to READY without holding down the driving brake (not the parking/emergency brake)? My 2004 will not go to READY unless the driving brake is held down when the POWER button is pressed. The condition of the parking brake doesn't matter.

Based on previous reports, if one stabs randomly at the POWER button without the driving brake depressed the car will go into a hosed state right quick.
 

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Wow, that must have been strange ( I mean the original post ), I actually believe you, as I had experienced some strange behaviours as well...

Several times now mine simply refused to turn off. I parked the car, came to a full stop, even the odo read 0mph. I pushed the Power button and voila; nothing. I pushed it several times, car still running. Put it into Park with the button, push'd Power; nothing. Applied even the parking brake; nothing. Tried to turn off FOB ctrl; nothing. Took several deep breaths, put it into D, waited a bit, tried again and it powered off that time. Took me about 3 minutes to power it down... Happened probably 3 times since I had it.
I suspect my Power button, but it works ~99.8% of the time... Software?!

I'm still loving it though! ;-)

Happy New Year!
 

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You may not be depressing the brake far enough, or the brake position switch may be faulty. The brake must be applied (or, more accurately, the computers must know that the brake is applied) when the power button is pushed before the car will go to READY, or go from READY to OFF. If in READY and the brake is not applied the power button must be held down for at least three seconds to turn the car OFF.

Stabbing at the power button as though it might electrocute you and not paying attention to the brake can wedge the car's computers.
 

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Pressing the power button for several seconds won't power off, but will get out of READY into Ig-On, and into Neutral.

When I powered up to ready with the door open, I still had press the brake. No brake press though to go to ACC or Ig-On.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well, it happened again. I had planned to record every action I took if it happened, but I was late for an appointment and desperate to get the car started. This time I took several deep breaths (this may be the trick), put the fob in ths slot and started pushing buttons. One of the things I did was to hold the power button on for a while. It occured to me that maybe you have to stand on your head and wave your arms, but I didn't have time to try that. After about a minute of this, the big triangle light went off and it started.

The suggestion about depressing the brake hard was one of the first things that I thought of, so I've been doing that all along. I suspect that it may be something like what Dan suggested.

By they way, I'm a software product manager who manages some quality assurance staff, so I know a little about testing. (Of course, so far I've violated rule number one: record everything.) I'm definitely going to figure out the pattern here.

Regarding the suggestion that the error codes aren't erased right away, if I was able to drive it straight to the dealer after having a problem, is it likely that the errors would still be there after 20-30 minutes? What should I ask the dealer to do (they don't always figure this stuff out themselves)?
 

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it takes a few restarts for the codes to go away, so you could feasibly bring it in to the dealer soon after and the codes would still be there if there are any.

tell them you are insistent that the problem be fixed right, and ask them to send it to their best diagnostic guy, not just the guy who does tranny flushes all day. tell them this is unacceptable. they may ask if they can put you in a rental and have the tech drive the car for a few days, so he can experience the situation himself. tell them about how often it happens (every 3 days, every 4 days, give a guess.) the 'could not duplicate' diagnosis isn't sufficient at this point. it's an intermittent problem and a good tech can nail it down. this is making you late for appointments and such, which is not the type of Toyota reliability you expect. tell them to make sure it's working right this time or you'll be in contact with customer service.

hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Mystery solved. Sort of.
This morning the car wouldn't start again. It was the usual full dashboard lights, lights working, etc, but no start. I called the dealer, who said have it towed over. Toyota Road Service sent a tow truck. The car was parked nose-in in my garage, with about a foot of clearance on each side, which I told Toyota.
The tow guy said "I can't tow that." I asked him if he would try to jump start it, which is what they usually do, just in case that might work. He said he'd never worked on a Prius and didn't want to get electrocuted. He said "I only do cars that run on gas" and left.
Toyota sent a second tow truck. Amazingly, he had not been told about the clearance issue and said the only way he could tow it was to drag it out (in gear). I said only if he or Toyota took responsibility for any damage. I asked him to jump start it, and he said "Isn't this a hi-bird? I don't know what to do one of these." He left.
Toyota sent a third tower. (I am not making this up.) He said he would tow it if he got a waiver, and this time the Toyota dealer said they would sign one. I asked him if he would try a jump start first. He said he had never done a Prius before, but would try if I read him the instructions. I was doing this when the dealer called to see what was happening, and he put a tech on the phone who walked the guy through the jump start. (It's not rocket science.) And guess what? It started.
I drove straight to the dealer and insisted (thanks to the advice received here) that hey hook it up to the computer. The service manager got the Prius guy to do it, and everything was normal except...the battery had been largely discharged before I drove it over. It had fully recharged on the way, but there was a record of the discharge.
Apparently the 12 volt battery can power the lights, etc, when it's low, but when the computer gets low power it goes nuts. The tech described what he would expect to happen, and that's pretty much what's been happening.
The problem has happened when the car has sat for 2-3 days without being used. Duh. It hadn't occured to me that this would be enough to have any significant effect on the battery. Now, don't all say that you do this all the time. I'm sure you do. But the tech's theory, which could not be proven at the dealer, is that the battery isn't holding a charge. Anyone every have that problem?
No happy ending yet: the dealer wouldn't replace the battery...yet. They said wait for it to happen again. I'm calling Toyota tomorrow and telling them I darn well won't wait and what are they going to do to keep me a happy Prius customer who likes to recommend their products. We'll see.
Any thoughts on this?
 

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It's obvious he's talking about the 12V battery:

1. Tow truck was able to jump start the car.
2. Computers went nuts due to low main power voltage (which is 12V).
3. There's no way the traction battery is going to discharge in 2-3 days while off without it being obviously defective, since it is totally disconnected when not in READY.

Unless there is excessive standby drain (which should be checked about 15 minutes after the car is turned off), then the battery itself is bad.
Some cars had a bad JBL amp that didn't turn completely off when the car was turned off.
 
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